Introduction to conduct of the AGS

The conduct of the AGS follows a devolved model; much of the administration is undertaken by institutions, who prepare for the surveys in many different ways. GCA plays an advisory role and encourages adherence to a set of important recommended practices.

Pre-survey activites

Early planning at the institutional level typically involves such tasks as:

  • confirming survey budgets
  • evaluating prior survey administration
  • recruiting and training casual staff
  • locating necessary resources and infrastructure
  • mapping out timelines and administration processes
  • acquiring and preparing population information from statistics or planning offices
  • specifying a selection of optional Course Experience Questionnaire (CEQ) items and ordering printed paper forms from GCA
  • if using the GCA-provided online version of the AGS, ordering individual login IDs from GCA
  • pre-survey engagement activites (to raise awareness of the AGS among final-year students)
  • organising distribution processes and supplementary materials (e.g. a standard cover letter).

During this time, there is considerable communication between institutions and GCA at the operational level.


A single survey year is across two calendar years and, for most institutions, involves two rounds of distribution. Surveys are administered to mid-year graduates between October and January and to end-of-year graduates between April and August of the following year.

A national distribution framework developed by GCA in 2005 provides a structure for managing distributions and for ensuring uniformity across the country. Surveys are administered on-site at graduation ceremonies, by email and online, by mail and by telephone.

Responsibility for monitoring, tracking and collating returns is largely undertaken by institutions, who also conduct follow-up distributions to non-respondents.

Patterns of survey distribution vary between institutions, but tend to include three or more multi-modal attempts to secure a response (i.e. using email, mail and/or telephone).

Data processing

Data processing consists of:
1.       coding of verbatim answers to key questions
2.       data entry / data capture
3.       imputation of certain demographic and contextual information
4.       data entry / data capture
5.       data cleaning and tidying, and
6.       the merging, building and validation of data files.

The data processing steps 1-5 are either completed by GCA, or by the institutions themselves (in line with GCA specifications). GCA then validates each institution’s raw file, and builds the national data file. Data processing involves significant iterative contact between GCA and institutions, and includes the preparation and review of a series of frequency and destination tables.

Analysis and reporting

The survey cycle continues with national and institutional reporting. GCA prepares a range of printed and online reports, which are distributed widely across the sector. Some institutions use GCA data to prepare internal reports for faculties, courses, departments and student cohorts.

GCA data is analysed and reported by Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) and Universities Australia (UA). GCA data is used in the Good Universities Guide to provide information about courses and institutions.

Our reports are prepared for a vast range of purposes and stakeholders. They are consumed by people working in institutional planning offices, teaching and teaching support roles, careers offices, student advisory and support roles, institutional management and leadership and the general public.

Key results are directly accessible by the public via the GCA website. National-level data are also available in the same year that they are collected through the snapshot reports GradFiles and GradStats, available for download free of charge on the GCA website.

To access, or read more about these or other reports on AGS data, visit the Survey Reports section of this website.